Archive for February, 2016

The Joy of Native Plants

Oh the joy of NW Native Plants. Along with studying the scientific properties & details of the plants, we get to look at how Native Americans used the plants to their advantage. The whole 3rd grade is partaking in a book project that will display their knowledge of a diverse selection of plants. With the approach of Spring we have been able to be outside! These investigations have been some serious, hands-on, artistic fun & have finally brought us out of the greenhouse as the weather improves.


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We have really been studying salmon lifecycles, native plants, & really gettin’ deep w/ these letters to President Obama about the Duwamish Tribe (see earlier post). BUT! It just felt like time to step away from the lofty ideas, heady explorations, and 2 dimensional concepts and get into some food!!!! No all the food wasn’t from the garden, but we made it our own as we chef’d up this fabulous Orca coleslaw.


On these rainy garden days, Spring seems a million miles away. So we wanted to bring a it a little closer with some fabulous salad preparation. All organic and all vegan (Vegenaise is a revelation!). The kids loved it- a full 90% were all about it. This is such a big part of this program- eating, working together,&  getting our hands dirty. This is a million miles away from Common Core and into true hands-on experiential learning. Forget learning by doing- learning by eating!


Fellow garden educators and aspiring cooking teachers beware- this involves a lot of set-up, breakdown, cleaning, food prep, shopping, etc. But the pay off when a youngster eats what they prepared and then enjoys the meal together with their friends, makes it all worth it.


Thumbs up! And let’s not forget that we fed the worm bins our scraps (we mostly avoided getting dressing in there, but it wasn’t perfect).



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Letters to Obama- Recognize the Duwamish Tribe!


4th, 5th, and 6th grade have been flexing their civic duty muscles here this week with some very powerful letters to president Obama concerning the Duwamish Tribe. When I suggested that maybe we write some letters to advocate the tribe being federally recognized, students were very enthusiastic. If the tribe was recognized on a federal level, they could get the land, fishing, healthcare, and education rights that they deserve- and were promised! They signed the Point Elliot treaty in 1855 guaranteeing them rights they never received. They were eventually reimbursed $1.56 for all their land and hardships.


This activity has not been without it’s challenges. This might be a smaller microcosm of the challenges in education in general. Is it our job as teachers to make kids care about something? Should we be inspiring kids to care? Do we take our own feelings about what we care about and share them with kids and hope that they care? We all know that it is a challenge to care. I guess I feel that it is a necessity to care. So my focus with this letter is to take the experience of two weeks of studying Duwamish history and culture (through the Burke Museum boxes) and bring it into the present. The story of the Duwamish is a story that is continuing now! I felt that they needed our help and the actions of a few hundred students may actually have an impact.


Plus at least students get to learn the lost art of letter writing! They take facts they have learned and share them with our President. This is an inadvertent assessment of what students have learned the last few weeks too. It’s writing, reading, Native History, Washington State History, civic action, and social justice. A truly cross curricular activity that I hope reached the kids (and eventually the government!) on some level.


These letters have been thoughtful, inspiring, and absolutely amazing. Stay tuned for updates! These are just the rough drafts!

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A kindergarten salmon’s journey!

It was a delightfully sunny day and it was a perfect time for our annual kindergarten salmon obstacle course! We used hoops & bowling pins to simulate the rocks and logs on a salmons journey. We also had students with scarves pretending to be bears and eagles swiping at salmon. Other students threw foam balls of trash in the streams of the swimming salmon. We even had some fisher-folks with foam sticks tryin’ to fry up the salmon. These kind of interactive & kinetic activities really get kids involved and excited. Who wants to talk about salmon when they can be salmon! Our salmon will have a tough “road” ahead and this activity reinforces that!

If you haven’t yet seen the baby Orca salmon, they are in the hallway near the office!

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